The Pandemic Transformed Healthcare. That’s a Good Thing.

BrandPost By Michael Belfiore
May 25, 2021
IT Leadership

A digital-first approach lays the groundwork for improved security and resiliency.

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Credit: metamorworks

Ninety percent of healthcare leaders expect the COVID-19 crisis to permanently transform their industry, according to McKinsey & Company.

That’s because the pandemic accelerated digital transformation and new technology adoption. Organizations had to deploy technologies at a breakneck pace to power capabilities such as:

  • Remote patient observation
  • Automated PPE detection
  • Telemedicine
  • Augmented and virtual reality-enhanced video conferencing
  • Robust IT infrastructure that works everywhere from rural clinics to parking lots serving as pop-up vaccination centers

At the same time, healthcare facilities faced an unprecedented rise in ransomware attacks as cybercriminals sought to profit from disrupting critical services.

These factors highlighted that resilience is essential for keeping facilities in operation and serving patients. And that goes for the future as well as the present.

“Healthcare organizations need increased agility to accommodate fast-arising situations,” says Juan Vela, global head of market strategy at Cisco Meraki.

Organizations can no longer afford to focus on IT cost savings at the expense of resiliency, he says.

 Better prepared for crisis

The good news is that the core capabilities fostered by healthcare organizations over the last year have better prepared them for future crises. Pop-up testing and vaccination centers, hybrid office-and-home workplaces, cloud-based IT management, and more provide solid foundations for adaptation as needed.

For example, a new cloud-managed network connects more than 100 sites within the Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) in Illinois. The network gives doctors and staff access to vital, life-saving data even in the event of an ISP failure. If a given ISP goes down, cellular modems seamlessly connect facilities to mobile networks.

“We expect this new generation of cloud-based networking to literally become a lifesaver for our organization and its patients,” says HSHS network engineer Benjamin Story.

Building the future of medicine Vela and other industry professionals see a growing need for more resilient, flexible, and secure IT infrastructure as healthcare increasingly depends on technology for trends such as:

  • Healthcare-at-home for patients using connected devices, including blood-pressure monitors that send data directly to providers without the need for office visits
  • Telemedicine and remote collaboration
  • Increasing cyberattacks creating uncertainty and the potential for instability

With a digital-first approach enabled by robust IT platforms, healthcare organizations have now laid the groundwork for a future in which technology helps more people more reliably and securely.

For example, many organizations have upgraded to WiFi 6. The latest standard boosts maximum connection speeds and allows more devices to connect to a network without dropouts. That’s important as healthcare facilities adopt an Internet of Medical Things, says Emily Sporl, audience marketing manager at Cisco Meraki. “It’s perfect for connecting gurneys and IV poles and tablets used for patient notes.”

Learn more about how cloud-managed IT can help your organization meet the challenges of 2021.